January 14, 2019

From Gerald R. Lucas
Bologna, November 29, 2009.

Today was day two of the 2019 spring semester. That means reading quizzes to see how many students took me seriously. About half. Some won’t get it until midterm. Some never do.

Today’s song is “Speak in Tongues” by Placebo. It has a bouncy intro and seems to address the contention between conforming and, here, speaking one’s own, unique language. “Kitty” has been fixed on the “island,” but our narrator does his best to break her out of it. I get the impression he’s part of the reason she was there. His language is also odd — she returned “from on the island”; “She and me's”? It seems he’s got his own tongue, too. Yet, there’s this dangerous passion that they share(d) — “tongue” also suggesting a literal mixing of tongues left to our imagination.

There’s a sense of the atavistic here, too, yet the narrator’s language suggests that the “law” is the “decay” that should be avoided. The “blase” is beautiful, and “yesterday” might represent the island’s conditioning. If that could be eschewed, they could reclaim tomorrow.

Or something like that. This song has been on my running playlist for a while among much more Placebo. I heard it avoiding listening to the new Georgia governor’s inauguration. Yeah, it was a Monday.